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Tom_Doak

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Going To The Precipice
« on: August 12, 2009, 10:49:11 AM »
This is an offshoot of the Kingsley Club thread, in which Nick Christopher posted that he thought Kingsley "went to the precipice" of being too severe, but did not cross that line.  What I want to discuss is the subject of whether there IS such a line that can be crossed, or whether there is no such thing ... and whether golf course architecture has to push that line (and how far) in order to be really good.

First of all, if there is such a line, it will vary depending on the observer.  And there may be some observers for whom there is NO line, but I suspect that is not the case; I am sure I could build something they thought was beyond the pale, if I really tried.

Second, if the line is variable, I think it must also vary depending on the elements.  On a really windy day even a plain-Jane course becomes very difficult in places ... so a course on the precipice would likely be blown over the edge.

When I was building my first course at High Pointe 22 years ago, with my friend Tom Mead [who Mike D. also knows well], we both agreed that we were not going to aim for the course to be loved by everyone, as so many courses try to do nowadays.  Tom's opinion was that we would strike the right balance if 50% of golfers loved the course, and 50% hated it.  That would be really pushing the envelope.

Of course, most clients would disagree with that perspective [even though we did not really make High Pointe THAT severe].  Our client Mr. Hayden was not part of those late-night discussions, but as soon as the course opened and people started complaining about any little feature, he started doubting if we'd really done the right thing.  They never took care of the course as well as they should because they didn't understand it very well, or the philosophy behind it; and now the place is closed, so its ability to generate thought and controversy is sorely handicapped.  So, that reality prevents most architects from taking as much of a chance with bold design as they might if they were George Crump and it was all their own money.

After twenty years of practice, my own thought is that there is not really a "precipice" as Nick suggested [or as Mike Hurdzan suggested in his book].  A golf course is a combination of small elements, and if you put too many heavy ones on the scale, you are in danger of tipping it over.  But since the tipping point is never clear-cut, I tend to stay back a bit further from the precipice than some others today, because I always have the really windy day in the back of my mind.  And I've learned that you can have a really fun course that gets a great view of the abyss without taking the chance of falling into it.

I firmly believe that some of those elements should call for extreme skill ... say, the second green at Kingsley, where nothing but a straight shot will do.  But if you do that too often, most people won't enjoy the course ... so some of the other holes should require a shot which has to be played hoping for a certain amount of luck on the bounce.  And by no means should this discussion revolve just around Kingsley.  It's applicable to lots and lots of modern courses -- including every single course by Mike Strantz or Jim Engh, and probably half of mine or Bill Coore's or lots of others trying to make a name for themselves in the past 20 years.

I have never really tried to put this idea in print before so I should probably stop here and let others discuss a bit, while I refine my thoughts.


Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2009, 10:56:09 AM »
Little time today Tom, but its a great topic. However, it requires some conceptual thinking and I think few will participate.

More later. I am intrigued by the concept, even admitting, as you do, that you and I or any other gca would have entirely different takes on the tipping point.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Peter Pallotta

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2009, 11:19:16 AM »
Tom -

I'll have to develop and refine my thoughts on this too, but fwiw my first thought was that whether the severity of a course tips into the precipice or not has a lot to do with the nature of that severity and the reason for/rationale behind it, as well as with the consistency of intent and execution the designer wants/manages to achieve over 18 holes.

I guess I'm leaning towards the notion that the precipice is not a matter of facts or absolutes but instead a matter of perception -- and that an  important question is how those perceptions are formed, developed, and confirmed/contradicted by the architect.

(There's an old screenwriter's cliche about creating an engaging story-line for the audience: "Tell them what they're going to see; describe to them what they're seeing; and explain to them what they saw".  I've never decided whether or not that advice applied only to hack writers and formulaic scripts.) 

But what an architect does with the natural features early on, how he utilizes them in the routing of the opening holes,  I think may go a long way in establishing the base-line for those perceptions. 

Peter
« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 12:59:10 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Chuck Brown

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2009, 11:30:10 AM »
Tom I just eante to know what club you hit off the tee on 9 at Kingsley and what your score was... ;D

Seriously, I'm not sure if this is a contribution to the topic, but I think that there is a conceptual line that is crossed, for the bad, when "difficulty" intersects with "lost balls."  Any hazard or problem on a golf course that introduces lost balls is a huge problem.  The biggest problem in golf course design in my view.

16 at CPC was rightly thought to be a marginal design; I think it passes muster (handily) because of its overwhelming beauty, and the fact that a ball that bounds off the rocks into the Pacific is immediately clear to the player and his companions.  The game can continue without a long ball-hunt.

Bill_McBride

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2009, 11:30:37 AM »
Would this get into the discussion about the difference between "penal" and "strategic" designs?

Would a course that went to and maybe over the precipice, depending on the wind, i.e. would there be shot demands where only a very good shot would avoid a severe penalty?  ("Penal" design)

Or would there always be a way to finish the hole with perhaps a stroke penalty if a not so good shot was played?  ("Strategic" design, with a way around the trouble)

Joe Hancock

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2009, 11:33:32 AM »
Tom,

First, this is exactly the kind of topic we need here. This ought to generate some great thoughts from the gang.

One of your first questions deals with whether a course has to push an envelope to be great. I don't think so. I think a course can be great because the terrain is fantastic, the routing is accommodating of the features of the land and all other aspects that make some routings great, and a collection of 18 rock solid, interesting holes. Features that push the envelope aren't always necessary.

Another thought I have deals with the personality and preferences of the architect. I think some architects are risk takers. They are playful and adventurous. They are mischievous. And some architects are conservative. They play it safe in all aspects of life. They are pleasers who don't want any negative feedback so they do what they think is universally accepted. And there is all types in between, and a few outside the boundries.

I'll leave it at that for a while, and watch this develop. It should be good.

Joe
" What the hell is the point of architecture and excellence in design if a "clever" set up trumps it all?" Peter Pallotta, June 21, 2016

"People aren't picking a side of the fairway off a tee because of a randomly internally contoured green ."  jeffwarne, February 24, 2017

Sean_A

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2009, 11:39:35 AM »
Tom, this is an interesting concept.  I know when I looked at several pix of Kingsley I thought to myself that the course could be ott, but not enough to put me off wanting to visit for a first hand look.

The idea of a tipping point is intriguing on a few levels. For one, it can be elements of design which cause alarm in terms of lost balls and frustration.  For instance, the use of harsh rough, oob or water.  An example might be the rough at Muirfield.  For me, it detracts from what should be a great round of golf.  For another, it can be elements of design which don't cause alarm with lost balls, but cause boredom through predictability instead.  For instance, Yeamans Hall comes oh so close to being great, but the repetitive nature of the green-side bunkering holds it way back for me.  However, excessive yardage also cause boredom because of the requirement of hitting woods hole after hole.  

I don't know if there is a design line that can be crossed where the totality of a course is concerned.  The two examples I gave above would not deter me from playing the courses again, they only detour me from thinking of them as having reached what I believe their full potential quality is.  I spose one area of design that would and really does bother me is excessive danger from being hit by other groups.  That said, I haven't come across a course which I think in total, crosses that line of what is acceptable.  

The other element, and this is not entirely design related, which really bothers me are courses which because of drainage issues are virtually non playable for several months of the year in climates that yield all year round golf.  I have come across some courses like this and it taints my view them in a very negative way - Painswick being the prominent example that people would know on this site.  This is why I have a lot of sympathy for Jeff B's (and whoever else) attempts to make drainage happen even at the expense of some playability - a sort of tradeoff.  

Finally, and not totally design related is the very dry course.  So dry that it is difficult to control the ball after landing.  I think for many, this happens when they come to the UK.  However, as Tom suggests, I believe it is the combination of f&f conditions with wind and perhaps the demanding architecture of championship courses most often visited on the tourista trail.  I do sometimes run into this situation, but I find the problem to be the confining aspects (harsh rough and/or heavy bunkering) which cause the headaches, not the wind, terrain or f&f conditions.  Though I totally understand that many would see the same things and say the f&f conditions are causing the headaches.  

In general, I agree with Tom.  It is wise for the archie to hold back a bit with the design to protect the player in times of bad weather even if it risks the visiting player not quite getting a grip of why a course is so good if it catches it on a benign day.  I mean, isn't this what the very essence of TOC is and for that matter links in general?

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 11:44:21 AM by Sean Arble »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Jason Topp

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2009, 11:44:03 AM »
For me - hope is the key to me enjoying a hole.  If I have hope of a good result, and that hope is balanced against an interesting danger, I enjoy the hole.  I think that forumula works pretty well for evaluating all holes.  The trick is to create both hope and danger for a wide variety of skill levels.  The best courses create that mix in many different contexts and it is possible to be very extreme in design if you can create both of those possibilities.

2 and 9 at Kingsley push the envelope but still provide hope to most because they are so short.

Using Kingsley as an example in a completely different context - despite being a very tough hole - 15 provides hope even though it is a driver/3 wood for me from the back tee.  Because the green is so small, I know I have a chance against someone who hits it a long ways because he will have a real difficult time hitting the green.  

By contrast, I will feel a huge disadvantage on a tree lined, narrow fairway 440 yard hole with bunkers tightly guarding a normal sized green elevated from the fairway.  Such a hole might be a driver/mid or short iron for a long hitter but it will be a driver/hybrid or more for me.  On the tee, I have little hope.  Even if I score comparitively as well on this second type of hole, the absence of hope makes it a far less enjoyable experience.

  

Adam Russell

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2009, 11:47:49 AM »
Tom -

My personal knee-jerk reaction was NO. To design right at the precipice or to try to push a course over the edge would accept a mindset - design with severity as the end-goal. To place that goal in the forefront relegates others, namely variety. To do that would place a segment of golfers and the element of pure chance by the wayside, and I don't believe you could constantly use severe features of a site and create a really good course. And in my conclusions I'm picturing really good as 9 or perfect 10 course.

However, I do believe there are always places where a golfer should be pushed to the edge in the course of a round, and once or twice in a routing there can be a place where design gets close to the ledge. I just don't believe the entire course should harbor severity just for the sake of exciting the masses, and if it tried, most golfers would be turned off it anyway.
The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola, one of life's most delightful elixirs, which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead, is to put rum or bourbon in it. -Lewis Grizzard

Peter Wagner

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2009, 11:51:11 AM »
Tom,

I think you are getting to the core of why people play golf and why they find it fun.  But "fun" is a very relative term that varies greatly depending the audience.  I dislike rollercoasters and my daughter loves them. 

So I think to answer some of your questions you have to define the target audience and survey them to find out how much challenge they want in order to have a perfect day of golf.

A muni on Maui might be best designed for barefoot relaxed not very tough but fun to look at whereas a destination course in the middle of nowhere would be very difficult.  Different audiences but both happier given their expectations for those settings. 

IMO, a golf course is a product, and like every other product on the planet it is subject to the same rules of marketing:  Identify the customer first, satisfy the hell out of them, and just deliver what they ask for.  If they want 'Tiger proof' then give it to them but if they don't then they won't buy your product.

Best,
Peter

Michael Dugger

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2009, 11:52:36 AM »
Something I've always admired about Tom's design philosophy is issues of this sort, and in thinking about it I am reminded of something he wrote in Anatomy.

He was talking about how the UKers have a much better attitude about their golf and understand that the "rub of the green" is just part of the game.

In other words, sometimes you are the fly, and sometimes you are the windshield.

And it's really as simple as that, some days the golf course will be cruel to you, and others it will reward for a shot which really did not deserve such love.

When he wrote this I think he was mostly referrring to course conditioning, but I also think it's applicable to this concept of "precipice" he's raised here.  

The game would be painfully boring if every green was circular and dead flat.  Yet I think it takes a certain sense of humor....a certain attitude....to laugh not to cry when finding yourself in the utter wrong spot.

They say nothing worth having in life is easy, and that's what I like about golf courses that push it to the limit.  The feeling you get after battling and perhaps beating Pacific Dunes, for example, is far more satisfying than going low at Sandpines.



« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 11:55:11 AM by Michael Dugger »
What does it matter if the poor player can putt all the way from tee to green, provided that he has to zigzag so frequently that he takes six or seven putts to reach it?     --Alistair Mackenzie--

JMEvensky

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2009, 12:00:48 PM »

Another thought I have deals with the personality and preferences of the architect. I think some architects are risk takers. They are playful and adventurous. They are mischievous. And some architects are conservative. They play it safe in all aspects of life. They are pleasers who don't want any negative feedback so they do what they think is universally accepted. And there is all types in between, and a few outside the boundries.



In addition to an architect's personality and preferences,I think you'd also have to say an architect's reputation would go into defining his "precipice".

Using Tom Doak as example since he posed the question,no disrespect to any other architects.

If Tom Doak built a golf course that was so far out onto the precipice as to be unplayable for just about anyone,chances are that some critics would hail the work as "ground-breaking genius" simply because of Doak's body of work.He'd be given the benefit of doubts that others wouldn't.

Aren't there examples of ODG's whose work was originally thought of as "crazy"?

I think the definition of precipice is,at least,partly a function of the architect and the way golfers perceive his work.

Bill_McBride

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2009, 12:03:10 PM »

Another thought I have deals with the personality and preferences of the architect. I think some architects are risk takers. They are playful and adventurous. They are mischievous. And some architects are conservative. They play it safe in all aspects of life. They are pleasers who don't want any negative feedback so they do what they think is universally accepted. And there is all types in between, and a few outside the boundries.



In addition to an architect's personality and preferences,I think you'd also have to say an architect's reputation would go into defining his "precipice".

Using Tom Doak as example since he posed the question,no disrespect to any other architects.

If Tom Doak built a golf course that was so far out onto the precipice as to be unplayable for just about anyone,chances are that some critics would hail the work as "ground-breaking genius" simply because of Doak's body of work.He'd be given the benefit of doubts that others wouldn't.

Aren't there examples of ODG's whose work was originally thought of as "crazy"?

I think the definition of precipice is,at least,partly a function of the architect and the way golfers perceive his work.

Mackenzie greens such as Sitwell Park.

Tom_Doak

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2009, 01:06:25 PM »
JMEvensky:

Your example is correct ... an architect's stature definitely has an effect on some people's reactions to "edgy" work.  Although it should be noted that Mike Strantz and Jim Engh's early work was widely praised for being "out of the box" despite their lack of exposure, and despite the fact that much of their later work is thought [by Matt Ward at least] to be clearly better than Caledonia or Redlands Mesa.

By the same token, most architects' work tends to get less edgy over time, partly because of familiarity with our style and partly because some feel they have a reputation to protect, in their own minds.  On top of that, we all have clients who have chosen to hire us based on certain expectations of what the finished product will be like.

What I see most often, though, is that younger architects "push the envelope" hoping to attract attention, and tend to push further than they need to.  P.B. Dye certainly pushed the envelope when I worked for the Dyes, but he was terrific when his dad was around to put a hand on his shoulder and tell him it would be fine to tone that down a little bit.  [For that matter, Mr. Dye had Mrs. Dye throughout his career, telling him the same thing.]  That is one more reason it helps to have a strong group of guys involved in the construction of your courses, who are coming at it from different perspectives.  Over time, I've developed from the lead risk-taker to the guy who has his hand on the volume control ... although where I decide to put the holes in the first place certainly sets the table for everything that follows.

Jed Rammell

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2009, 01:25:51 PM »
Tom - -

I feel the answer to your question lies in a golfer's perspective. If I'm all square in my match in the middle of the 16th fairway at Pacific Dunes and I airmail the green and make a 7, I might lose the five dollar nassau. To me, its just golf, strictly entertainment, and my favorite challenge is when someone says, "par is a great score here." If you had designed the 18th green at Olympic, I might 5 putt from the Payne Stewart spot and lose 5 bucks . . . Payne Stewart lost a few pesos more.

Do you agree that designs labeled "on the edge" are a result of our country's infatuation with stroke play? Could the course just be called "a really great match play course with some tough holes?"

Kalen Braley

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2009, 01:29:59 PM »
Tom,

Excellent topic.  I think it was very relevant given this past's weekend trip where I played almost every style from a linksy rolling course like Wine Valley, to a parks-land style like Gozzer Ranch, a brute in the Idaho Club, and RCCC.  Each had thier own style and every single one of them was drop-dead gorgeous.  But certainly they played differently and each offered thier own type of shot requirements with various playability aspects.

More to come on this later when I do a few course reviews and organize my thoughts a little better.

Ben Sims

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2009, 01:30:42 PM »
For what it's worth, Tom said the magic word.  Perspective.  This boils down to three distinct variables that define--for me--that there is a precipice.  

1) Player.  Ask the Ryder Cup teams from '91 at The Ocean Course if the line was crossed.  There's a reason it was dubbed Looney Dunes.  Take this quote,  "It's so hard it's unbelievable," Floyd said of the course. "If you had to play this golf course with a scorecard, I don't see how you could finish."

If you're talking to Ben Sims--it's well documented that I live for quirk and extremism--that sounds like fun to me.  It's perspective.

2) Maintainence.  We saw Tom talk about the upkeep--or lack thereof--of High Pointe.  Let's use another Renaissance course as an example. Ballyneal.  Bent grass would certainly do well there.  What if Ballyneal had Sand Hills' green speeds on bent grass.  Precipice crossed.  No doubt.  Can you imagine rolling a chip shot up the left slope at the 7th green if it was stimping at 12?  

3) Timing.  Golf is a funny game.  Just like baseball, there are eras. Eras of technology advancement, eras of course maintenance advancement, eras of player advancement.  I would argue that in no time in the history of the game is there a bigger distance between high end equipment and low end, high end maintenance and low end maintenance, and high end player abilities and low end player abilities.   The game is accessible, sure.  But the the bell curve is getting wider and wider on many issues.   To me this comes back to perspective.  One man's pie is another man's cake.  Or even worse, one man's pie is another man's trash.  

That said, I think the precipice cannot be crossed if there is a consensus that something is good.  In Kingsley or Ballyneal's case--two courses with a good chunk of quirk and extremism--I have seen far many more positive outlooks than negative ones.  Really, the simplest and most juvenile of explaining "precipice crossing" may be to just separate golfers into the "fun crowd" and the "score crowd".

JMEvensky

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2009, 01:33:44 PM »
JMEvensky:

Your example is correct ... an architect's stature definitely has an effect on some people's reactions to "edgy" work.  Although it should be noted that Mike Strantz and Jim Engh's early work was widely praised for being "out of the box" despite their lack of exposure, and despite the fact that much of their later work is thought [by Matt Ward at least] to be clearly better than Caledonia or Redlands Mesa.

By the same token, most architects' work tends to get less edgy over time, partly because of familiarity with our style and partly because some feel they have a reputation to protect, in their own minds.  On top of that, we all have clients who have chosen to hire us based on certain expectations of what the finished product will be like.

What I see most often, though, is that younger architects "push the envelope" hoping to attract attention, and tend to push further than they need to.  P.B. Dye certainly pushed the envelope when I worked for the Dyes, but he was terrific when his dad was around to put a hand on his shoulder and tell him it would be fine to tone that down a little bit.  [For that matter, Mr. Dye had Mrs. Dye throughout his career, telling him the same thing.]  That is one more reason it helps to have a strong group of guys involved in the construction of your courses, who are coming at it from different perspectives.  Over time, I've developed from the lead risk-taker to the guy who has his hand on the volume control ... although where I decide to put the holes in the first place certainly sets the table for everything that follows.

I can certainly understand that a new guy would try to get street cred by designing something edgy.I don't think this is limited to golf course architecture.Seems like everyone in every field wants their rep established yesterday.

I think what I'm trying to say is that you couldn't ever really be considered "out there",even if you tried.There are,rightly or wrongly,too many critics who would jump to your defense.Your body of work would be held up to "prove" that you knew what you were doing.Nobody could ever accuse you of being an emperor without clothes.

I've never played anything by Strantz or Engh.I think the edgiest course I've ever played is the Stadium Course.Just curious,could anyone at that time other than Pete Dye have "gotten away with" that design?





JESII

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2009, 01:48:51 PM »
Tom,

I played in the 1996 British Amateur at Royal St. Georges and Deal. Tha practice round and qualifying days blew 40 miles per hour...noone matched par at RSG in qualifying...but on Day one or two of Match Play the wind died and I watched Justin Rose dismantle (I think it was Segio but it could have been a different Spaniard teen) his opponent on the 13th green at 6 or 7 under par.

I would think if you're designing courses with potential changes in condition (weather or course) that dictate that wide a scoring spread you'd better stay well away from the precipice. "Easy" holes can be fun and carry the challenge of expectations. Hard holes have a place, but it's limited IMO.

Haven't played Jim Engh's courses yet but the two Mike Strantz courses I've played look dramatic but are really pretty easy..get them rock hard with some wind and maybe not.

Tim Gavrich

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2009, 02:03:56 PM »
I believe that Ben Sims' acknowledgment of the difference between the "score crowd" and the "fun crowd" is essential to this discussion for everyone.  From what I gather, the majority of members of this site fall mostly into the "fun crowd," with handicaps north of 8 or 10, whose ends in golf are ambitions of winning a few Nassaus here and there, with out a whole lot of concern about round-to-round score.  I play for my college team, so I am concerned with shooting a good score most every time I go out and play.  But, I am a GCA member, so I appreciate the "fun factor" on golf courses far more than do many of the good players who hang out at my secondary golf forum, BombSquadGolf.  I started a poll there a couple weeks ago asking who preferred straightforward "all in front of you" golf courses to somewhat quirky courses, and a majority preferred the straightforward test to the quirkier one.  Needless to say, these are players who'd choose Firestone over Tobacco Road any day.  I'd go with Tobacco Road myself, but I am in the minority of lower-handicap players who would say that.

My point is that the "score crowd" is going to get upset when holes and courses push the envelope, and the "fun crowd" is going to get a bit bored when they don't.

I feel like this thread is mostly considering private courses, where the customer plays the course enough to have local knowledge.  On public courses, where a much larger number of customers are transient, is the precipice much closer in or is there a distinctly different way to get to the precipice?

Jim Sullivan--

Which two Strantz courses have you played?  I have played Tobacco Road, Tot Hill Farm, Caledonia, and True Blue, and would not say that any of them is especially difficult.
Senior Writer, GolfPass

Jim Franklin

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2009, 02:05:58 PM »
The Idaho Club that Kalen mentioned is hard. LOTS of forced carries so the high handicappers would have a problem. No bailouts so I think Jack may have gone over the precipice. On the other hand, I enjoyed the course, but was also hitting the ball very well. I do not think Kingsley went over because there were not many forced carries which really kill the high handicapper and could hurt the low one as well when the wind kicks up.
Mr Hurricane

Jerry Kluger

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #21 on: August 12, 2009, 02:10:28 PM »
Tom:

Clearly you took this into consideration in designing Commonground versus Ballyneal - the audience is much different and each has its own preferences.  The architect who has gone over the edge in at least two instances is Jack Niciklaus at the private club, Dismal River, and the municipal course in North Palm Beach.  I understand that a number of holes at DR were redone and those who have seen the revisions are pleased.  I played the course in North Palm Beach with a member and he said many of the residents simply cannot handle the green contours and the overall reaction has not been positive. 

Peter Pallotta

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #22 on: August 12, 2009, 02:11:07 PM »
Tom -

Re my earlier reference to the importance of perception (and how the architect helps form, develop, and confirm/contradict those perceptions in the golfer's mind), I think one aspect is that we probably react differently to the naturally-occuring (or to what appears natural) than we do to the obviously man-made.  It seems easier to accept disaster when it comes from Fate rather than from our fellow man.

And again, in terms of forming those perceptions, I'm not so sure that an architect's reputation is nearly as important as what that architect does with the natural features early on, how he utilizes them in the routing of the opening holes.  

(Btw, it's interesting but I guess not surprising how the professionals here tend to look at the question from the inside, e.g. what kinds of holes/design/challenges actually and objectively cross the line and what kinds don't; while I come at it from the outside, e.g. what kind of personal and subjective expectations and experience do I have with challenging golf holes, and how/why do I think I've been made to have them).

Peter
« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 03:42:56 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Michael Dugger

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2009, 02:11:30 PM »
My point is that the "score crowd" is going to get upset when holes and courses push the envelope, and the "fun crowd" is going to get a bit bored when they don't.

I fully understand what Tim is trying to say here, but I must make one comment.

If there is some feature to a golf hole which "pushes the envelope" then the expert golfer ought to exhibit great prudence in how they attack said hole.

Good golf, or smart golf, is not about hitting 18 fairways and 18 greens.  

And I am inclined to believe the "score crowd" is sometimes unoriginal and obtuse in their thinking.  

Let's not mince words, how many people truly have fun when they shoot a big score???  I have a hard time buying that a lot of us do.  Thus the fun crowd still seeks good scores.

I think what they do differently, however, is find more satisfaction in beating the course in a wide variety of creative ways....rather than 18 fairways/18 greens and 18 2 putts  
What does it matter if the poor player can putt all the way from tee to green, provided that he has to zigzag so frequently that he takes six or seven putts to reach it?     --Alistair Mackenzie--

Kalen Braley

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2009, 02:14:47 PM »
Tom:

Clearly you took this into consideration in designing Commonground versus Ballyneal - the audience is much different and each has its own preferences.  The architect who has gone over the edge in at least two instances is Jack Niciklaus at the private club, Dismal River, and the municipal course in North Palm Beach.  I understand that a number of holes at DR were redone and those who have seen the revisions are pleased.  I played the course in North Palm Beach with a member and he said many of the residents simply cannot handle the green contours and the overall reaction has not been positive. 

Jerry,

You can make this at least 3....the Idaho Club is nothing short of a brute and by far and away the most difficult course I've ever played.

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